According to the EPA, poor indoor air quality poses a significant health risks for many American familes today. Unfortunately, too few of us are aware of the risks, and of the measures that we can take to improve our homes' indoor air quality and limit the risk of asthma, allergies, exposure to carcinogens, and the many other detrimental effects of poor air quality in our buildings.
What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Poor indoor air quality can be caused by a number of factors, but the typical culprits are inside the home: pet dander, cigarette smoke, dirt and dust, mold, chemicals from building materials, smoke from fireplaces and kitchens, etc. While it is possible to minimize the impact of poor indoor air quality sources within the home, the most effective way to control air quality is to ventilate properly.
What Can Be Done About Poor Indoor Air Quality?
A ventilation strategy is critical for improving indoor air quality and minimizing the health risks of poor indoor air. While many homes rely on the natural ventilation occurring through air leaks in the building envelope (leaks between the living space and the crawlspace, attic and walls), this is not a reliable remedy -- often, the crawlspace and walls are full of toxins (like mold) that thereby enter the living space. The best way to improve a building's indoor air quality is through whole-house ventilation, using either a powerful whole-house fan or a heat-recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy-recovery ventilator (ERV).